tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 24, 2019 1:00am-2:00am PST
the overhauling of the system. >> when stacked high enough become insurmountable over tens of thousands of people. thank you both for joining me. i appreciate it. . hello. welcome to the beat on this monday morning. democrats ramping up pressure for impeachment witnesses after new ukraine witnesses. also, why mitch mcconnell is wrong about the senate trial. also a new court filing showing that democrats still thinking about more arts of impeachment against the president. but we start this hour with new demands for witnesses in the trial of donald trump. those calls getting louder after the release of e-mails sent just 90 minutes after trump's infamous ukraine phone call. ordering the pentagon to stay
quiet about the frozen military aid at the heart of this plot. that frozen aid is at the center of the impeachment case. and now democrats say these new e-mails highlight the need for more evidence and more witnesses. >> stop the aid, 91 minutes after trump calls zelensky and said keep it hush hush. from whom did duffy get the order? from whom did duffy get the order and why did he do it? what more do you need to request a witness? >> so today the top republican in the senate mitch mcconnell saying they'll decide on witnesses after the trial starts. >> what we need to do is to
listen to the arguments, have a written questioning period and then decide whether we need witnesses or not. >> and new tonight, a possible curveball for trump. democrats on the house judiciary committee telling a federal court that they want former white house counsel don mcgahn to testify so they can decide, quote, whether to recommend additional articles of impeachment. that obviously would be a huge development and signals how seriously democrats are treating obstruction by this white house. i talked to chairwoman maxine waters about that just last night. >> what we see is a continuation of them not responding to subpoenas, them not responding to the requests for documents. the president basically telling everyone around him don't respond to them, don't answer, don't cooperate with the congress. what are they hiding? >> all right. i am joined by mara gay, berit berger, former federal prosecutor and harvard professor leah wright rigueur. if they get this court order in
their favor, that don mcgahn has to potentially testify. what is your reaction to that development and how significant is it? >> well, there is nothing in the constitution that says they can't include additional articles of impeachment if additional evidence comes forward giving them a basis for doing this. i think perhaps the reason they're highlighting this now is to have a response to the doj's position was essentially that don mcgahn's testimony was moot at this point because it didn't affect the existing two articles of impeachment that had been voted on. so they had to come up with a response to say no, we still think this testimony is important.
but obviously, if don mcgahn is able to testify and has incriminating information that would lend credence to another article of impeachment, it's well within their right to go forward on that. >> leah, what is your reaction to that as well? it is pretty significant? and is it uncommon? just a regular legal proceeding that as more evidence comes to light, more charges are added? >> well, i don't think -- once more evidence comes to light, it makes sense that you would bring additional charges based on the findings, and that in fact from the beginning of this process, this is what it's always been about. even the moments when we knew way back when months ago when we were talking with the house about what kind of articles we would bring forward do, we want to bring impeachment forward, it was always about having this really good grounding in the evidence. and there was always kind of a conversation around what could don mcgahn bring and what kind of testimony and wanting to subpoena him and wanting to get him in front of people because they know that he knows where the bodies are buried. so there was always this conversation. but now that it's become a reality in the last couple of weeks and the white house has been increasingly pushing back on that, now this is a different kind of story and a different kind of narrative. so essentially, the white house is giving them the momentum,
giving democrats the momentum to bring additional charges based on whatever comes to light. >> the white house is trying to make a legal argument saying that by asking don mcgahn or asking the courts to weigh in on don mcgahn's testimony, they could then be injecting themselves into the impeachment process and are saying therefore shea no not be allowed to make a decision about don mcgahn. there any legal truth to that? saying the third and coequal branch of government is not allowed to interfere in a congressional legal proceedings? >> of course not. of course the judiciary has to be able to weigh in on this. what you have here is a white house that has obstructed this congressional investigation, said we're not going to comply with any of these subpoenas. so the next logical step is to bring to it the judicial branch. so this is well within their power, and they really have no choice but to step in if there is an unsettled legal issue where here we have the issue of how far does this executive privilege, how far does this absolute immunity actually extend.
>> mara, thinking of new evidence, there have been these emails leased over the weekend. they kind of show the timeline, 90 minutes after that phone call with zelensky, president zelensky and president trump, interesting, what's significant about it is not necessarily the timing of it but the notion as we were saying at the top of the show, the direct alternative the pentagon official to keep this quiet on a need to know basis. what does that tidbit of information tell you about what may have been or alleged to have been a cover-up? >> this gives you the context in which these white house officials were operating. >> they knew something was wrong. >> they knew it was wrong. they did it anyway. it is -- i won't go into the legal side of things. i'm not a lawyer. but from a political point of view and a common sense point of view, it really tells you a little bit about their intent, and it tells you about their mind-set when they were actually involved in this alleged cover-up.
and i think ultimately the democrats have a constitutional obligation as public servants to get as much information about what has occurred to the american people as possible. and it's also a trial in front of the american people. ultimately, this is about who can control the narrative, the white house in its fantasy land or whether democrats can actually gain a toehold to make their case in front of the american people. not just the courts. it's not just about the courts. >> it's incredible when you think even mitch mcconnell is not necessarily letting witnesses come forward. we may never hear from some of these people who are involved in what democrats allege could potentially be an impeachable offense. what do you make of that significant development in the emails that a budget official is essentially telling a pentagon official hey, keep this quiet for now. not even now. keep this quiet. don't let anyone know about it. from a legal perspective what is the significance that of? >> i think it corroborates what people have been saying now not just for months, but for years is which the white house believes it's above the law. it believes the law does not apply to itself. it doesn't apply to its representatives, 245 there was a real whether it be out of
incompetence, out of maliciousness or mal-intent there was disregard for how rule of law works, how authority works for accountability, but just how things operate in government. the idea of transparency, the idea of ethics, the idea of morals, all of that sought telephone window because we're talking about a white house that has a complete disregard for rule of law and makes its own set of rules and own set of fax. >> it's interesting. we're talking about a little aspect to. this mitch mcconnell has a very different interpretation of what this whole process is. let me play you guys his sound bite. >> do you think chuck schumer is impartial? >> no elizabeth warren? no. >> bernie sanders is impartial? let's quit the charade. this is a political exercise. all i'm asking of schumer is that we treat trump the same way we treated clinton. >> they may not even be doing that because at least the clinton trial had some
witnesses, there were deposition there was all kinds of testimony going into the impeachment trial of clinton. what is your reaction to him making that statement this is an entire political process. it has nothing to do with impartiality. >> look, these people need to be voted out of office. there are public officials serving in both parties across this nation at local levels and in state houses who actually truly serve the people that voted for them, and they put their duty to their constituents and the american constitution above partisan politics. that's something that we're not seeing. you have a higher duty. it's not just duty to party. this is about duty to the constitution, to the american people, and to democracy. and these people have made a mockery, these republicans, okay, of our constitution. they're not supposed to just be about partisan politics. it's the other sidism is really prius rating as well. we really do -- the democratic
party has plenty of problems, but right now we have only one party in american democracy that is committed to democracy. and the other party that seems more interested in power. so ultimately, the voters are going to have to take care of this. >> berit, the interesting thing about this is jurors in a normal trial come from all walks of life and they have their own personal biases, but they're asked to suspend the biases in a courtroom. i'm not sure i even understand mitch mcconnell's point. they are politicians, but once they step into that chamber and are involved in a legal proceeding, they're supposed to put their biases on the side. >> that's exactly right. it's a high standard that we ask for our jurors. i've done countless jury trials. >> the whole legal system is based on it. >> if you're interviewing juniors in the voir dire process, you hear a little about
their background, but one of the things the judge asks each and err one of them, okay, you put it all aside and just focus on the evidence? why should it be any different for our senators? why shouldn't they be able to put aside their party view and listen to the evidence? also, you're only going get that way if you're actually able to present evidence. a trial without evidence is an absolutely toothless charade. right? it's nothing for the senators to actually dig into vote on. so they need both evidence and absolutely like you said, they should be able to take the same standard as a regular criminal trial. thinking may be more of a political question than a legal question, but if this trial happens and the president is ultimately i quitted, does it hurt him that he does not get a fair trial, that he gets a sham process, that he just runs around town or across country saying he has been acquitted when everyone knows it was not fair? >> i think no matter what, he was going to call it a biased trial. >> right. >> and that part of what we're seeing is the white house strategy of saying i want to have my cake and eat it too. the president hasn't had a fair trial, but, the things that would require, that we would require for a kind of impartial trial in all of these things like witnesses testifying in fact the president doesn't want, you know, people to do. so he is instructing people not to testify or participate in the
process. so in this respect, no matter the outcome, the president can say i wasn't given a share slake. it's not fair. this is part of the strategizing. it's also why democrats are pushing what is going to amount to a constitutional crisis which is going to force republicans to say either we stand for the constitution or you know what? we are just concerned about power. >> speaking of witnesses, let me play you this sound bite from amy klobuchar talking about the need for witnesses. watch. >> the polls show 64% of republicans think these witnesses should testify. the president claiming his innocence, claiming that he wants to present witness, he's the one blocking the witnesses. >> all right. realistically, mara, what is it that democrats can do to really force the hand of mitch mcconnell to have witnesses? is it a pressure campaign? is it calling the senator's
office? >> it's all of the above. speaker pelosi has any trick up her sleeve that any speak kerr have. nobody knows the rules better than she does. but ultimately, the leverage may not be there. what they need to find is they need four members of the senate who are republicans who will demand a fair trial so to speak for the american people. they need to be looking at folks like mitt romney and susan collins. >> see if they can get -- >> to see if they can really get them to pull some leverage here. but ultimately, everything is about the election, which is less than a year away, and that's going to be the ultimate check on the power of mitch mcconnell, the white house. >> political accountability. mara, leah, thank you so much. stick around for us. one more block. coming up, a top white house aide still pushing putin's propaganda about 2016. also, rudy giuliani's expanding conspiracy theories. even some republicans are now sounding skeptical, believe it or not. and the trump administration
team trump still pushing misinformation about the 2016 election. a top aide to mike pence pushing the discredited theory that ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. watch. >> does trump still believe that it was ukraine, not russia that interfered in the 2016 election? >> chris, it doesn't have to be an either war. kit be both. >> does the president believe that ukraine interfered in the 2016 election? >> he thinks we should at least investigate it, chris. we're not questioning russia's interference, chris. i'm accepting that but it doesn't mean just because russia interfered doesn't mean others didn't as well. >> and as we have reported, there is no evidence that ukraine interfered in the election. and speaking of investigations, well, american intelligence agencies have traced that theory back to russia. in fact, "the times" reporting the kremlin has engaged in a years' long campaign to frame ukraine to be responsible for
what russia did in 2016. this comes after digging into how much influence vladimir putin seems to have on president trump. "the washington post" noting president trump grew insistent ukraine had worked to defeat him after meeting with putin in 2016. trump stated bluntly, quote, putin told me. meanwhile, echoing trumpian rhetoric in an end of year news conference. >> translator: house of representatives is the democratic majority. they've lost the elections and they're trying to revise the history with the means they have at their disposal. >> of course, trump taking to twitter to agree with the russian president, highlighting a write-up of putin's comments adding "a total witch hunt." with me now is glenn kirschner and back with me is berit berger. why does president trump trust vladimir putin over american
intelligence agencies? >> i don't know that he does. i mean, if president trump accepts the fact that russia interfered to his advantage and helped him get elected, it would delegitimize his presidency. so i don't know that it has anything to do with an honestly held belief by donald trump that, you know, ukraine interfered instead of russia. i think he doesn't want to do anything that would in fact delegitimize his presidency. and, you know, vladimir putin, i ayman must laugh himself to sleep every night. donald trump parrots it back. and lo and behold, the republicans in congress spit it out on the floor of the house, on the floor of the senate. and i'm sure vladimir putin never stops reveling in his own
good fortune to have diverted attention away from russia and placed attention on ukraine. >> it's quite remarkable that mark shore, the president's chief of staff can go on national television and say it should be investigated when in fact all of american intelligence agencies have said it was not ukraine, it was russia. former nsc official fiona hill testified about trump's ukraine theory. watch. >> based on questions and statements i have heard, some you have on this committee appear to believe that russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country, and that perhaps somehow, for some reason, ukraine did. this is a fictional narrative that has been purposed and propagated by the russian security services themselves. >> what is your reaction to that, glenn? >> you know, it's -- the fact that white house officials would say it should be investigated. it has been investigated. as you say, ayman, 17 intelligence agencies.
a bipartisan commission of congress, bob mueller for goodness sake indicted the russians who interfered in our elections. it's been investigated and investigated and investigated, and the fact that donald trump would actually say as is related by senior white house officials, but putin told me it wasn't him, that would be like me prosecuting cases and saying well, you know what? i can't prosecute this defendant because he the defendant told me he didn't do it. it's absurd. >> berit, i'm curious to get your thoughts on how a false ukraine theory like this being advance beside i the white house can either fit into a defense strategy if there is a coherent one by the president, or what is at play here? are we missing something legally speaking from the president and his defense team? >> no, i don't think we are. i actually agree with glenn. i'm not sure how much we can believe that the administration truly live believes that it was ukraine this was responsible for
them. i think in many ways this is them putting together a defense of saying he actually was really concerned about corruption in ukraine. this wasn't just a chance to get dirt on biden. this want just looking into the election. he was truly, deeply concerned about what was happening there to add some sort of legitimacy to the call, to add some sort of legitimacy to his requests from zelensky to show how they were combatting corruption. whether -- if this was a totally discredited theory that nobody believed in, it wouldn't have as much, you know, legs to it. but if this is something that they can put out there that he truly believed that he thought was legitimate, it may be some sort of a defense that they can put forward during trial. >> i always find it interesting and coincidental that trump suddenly became obsessed with fighting corruption in ukraine just as joe biden entered the democratic race and became the front-runner. let me play this sound bite from trump talking about trump at a helsinki summit last year. >> my people came to me, dan coats came to me, some others said they think it's russia. have i president putin.
he just said it's not russia. i will say this. i don't see any reason why it would be, but i really do want to see the server, but i have -- i have confidence in both parties. >> berit, do you think is going to be a problem for the election cycle going into 2020 if you have a president whose agencies may be coming to brief him on some of the updated security risk, maybe not just from russia, maybe china, iran, elsewhere, and the president is just taking the word of those countries at face value? >> absolutely. it should be something that every single person in this country is concerned about. if you don't know the source of where the president is getting his information, that should be deeply concerning. we should hope that a president is getting his or her information from the very people that are sourced with gathering that in a responsible and manageable way, not from outside source. could this should be worrying
for everybody. >> glenn, final word to you about the impeachment and the ukraine theory that is being put forward. does the presence of somebody like rudy giuliani and we'll get to that later in the program, what he is trying to do in terms of digging up something in ukraine, does that muddy the waters? >> i don't think so. he'll deliver his little mickey mouse report that was apparently generated by rudy giuliani meeting with a whole bunch of corrupt, fallen, disgraced ukrainian prosecutors and officials, and i think it will land with a thud, and i don't think right be worth the paper it's written on, and i doubt it will make a serious appearance in the impeachment trial. >> all right. glenn kirschner, berit berger, thank you both very much. ahead, neal katyal is here with a preview of the senate impeachment trial and why new witnesses are necessary. that's when we're back in just 30 seconds.
president trump has been impeached, but almost every day we're still learning now details about his ukraine conspiracy. friday night we learned 90 minutes after trump's infamous ukraine call, white house officials told the pentagon to stay quiet about the frozen military aid. in the past week we also learned that a rudy giuliani associate secretly got a million dollar payout from a putin-linked oligarch, that putin himself apparently fed trump those bogus ukraine ideas, and that a key witness to the plot, bill taylor, is now being ordered to leave ukraine. in other words, this is far from over.
there is still a lot we don't know, which highlights the need for new witnesses at trump's senate trial. there are 41 witnesses at andrew johnson's trial, three at bill clinton's. >> republican house managers told the senate they have a witness list, finally naming names. president clinton's friend vernon jordan, sidney blumenthal and monica lewinsky. >> the senate laid down the law today. house prosecutors can persuade the senate to call witness, but only a few, and only if they can add to the case to convict the president. >> in fact, republican senators back then felt they needed witness, including some who will be voting on trump's fate. now like susan collins. >> i need witnesses and further evidence to guide me to the right destination to get to the truth. >> with me now, former acting u.s. solicitor general neal katyal. his new book "impeach: the case
against donald trump." and just minutes ago he published a new op-ed in "the washington post" titled "new evidence for impeachment of donald trump keeps turning up." that's why we need witnesses. explain why witnesses are needed at the trial, despite what somebody like mitch mcconnell says, that they are not needed. >> there are so many different ways to do so, but let me give you one microcosm, and that's what "the washington post" piece that i just launched a few minutes ago says. so on friday night, trump had tried to keep these emails secret from his omb executives, but they came out. because of private litigation, he tried to hide them. and the emails say one on july 25th, just 90 minutes after the president had his quid pro quo phone call with the president of ukraine saying, i need a favor from you, though, 90 minutes later, this omb, this office of management and budget official, a trump political appointee orders the aid withheld and then says effectively, keep this quiet.
only tell pentagon budget officials. now why did he want it kept quiet? who is he keeping it quiet from? there is only one real explanation here, and it's congress, because he' required actually under law, if you try and not spend some money that congress is not allocated, the act of 1974 requires congress to be told about it, and they weren't. now that official, michael duffy who wrote those emails, he has been on the witness list for the democrats in the house and the senate. the senate has only named four people they want on their list. he is one of them. and this is before this email. now look, can you come up with some possible explanation for what duffy said in those emails? it's really hard, which is why trump tried to hide the emails in the first place. but i suppose it's possible. but that's exactly why duffy needs to come and testify and tell the truth to the american people.
and what donald trump has done is he has said no, full gag order. duffy and no one else can testify. the most striking thing about this is donald trump is being impeached for blocking witnesses, and his solution is oh, i'm going to go block witnesses again in the senate. it is a grave abuse of power. >> and he is certainly getting some help from the senate, including people like mitch mcconnell. and there is a bit of irony in all of this, in that senators are expected to swear a oath to do impartial justice, but mitch mcconnell doesn't seem to be living up to that. what is your take? what would you say to mitch mcconnell when he makes the argument this is not a judicial process, this is a political process? >> i mean, impeachments in the constitution, and i can't think of a more grave responsibility than the senate which is
allocated the sole power toe try piece. . a trial is after all a legal proceeding, and impeachment has political overtones, but no, you can't go out and just announce your verdict before having the trial. i know that's what mcconnell is familiar with in soviet justice, but in this country, we have real trials with witnesses, and as you said, andrew johnson had 41 witnesses. clinton had three. the idea that you have a trial with no witnesses and have the senate majority leader predetermine and preannounce his results ahead of time, this is a constitutional travesty. and mitch mcconnell has shown several times he has no appreciation for the constitution. but i don't think the american female will support such a thing. >> there is an interesting theory that is being floated out
there by trump allies and some scholars who are claiming that president trump hasn't really been impeached because the documents, the articles themselves have not been transmitted to mitch mcconnell's office. watch this sound bite. >> one can make a fairly decent argument that the president wasn't really even impeached. nancy and the gang ran out of town without even naming impeachment managers and without sending the articles to the senate. >> i'm not sure she can make a legally based argument, but has trump been impeached or not? >> oh, he's certainly been impeached. i don't think nobody really believes this. constitutional scholars don't believe this with the exception of one guy at harvard who i think is enamored a little bit by his intelligence. this is a clever but ultimately terrible argument. it's an argument the house didn't believe. it would mean the house has been debating in a resolution and taking witnesses and hearing testimony for no reason at all that can't possibly be the rule they voted to impeach the president. and most importantly, donald trump himself thinks he has been impeached because his own
justice department made a filing last week in federal court in the mcgahn case which said that case is now moot because he has been impeached. nobody -- i think nobody serious really believes this. >> and let me get your thoughts the role joint chief justice john roberts will play in this. he is expected to preside over the trial. there are sparks between president trump going after chief justice roberts on twitter over the past year or so. what do you expect him to play? does he have any actual power or influence, not on the outcome, but at least in the decorum and the process of how this plays out? >> oh, i think the chief justice has a massive role to play. so impeachments of the president have been governed by the same rules that have been around since andrew johnson in 1868. and they say that the chief justice is the one to decide over which witnesses will appear. and so mcconnell has been trying to signal that maybe he is going to try to break with those rules and try and do something totally different, something very unconstitutional. but, you know, that's going to require i think a real significant rebuke by the senate over the chief justice. i just don't think that's possible. and so i do think ultimately the chief justice is empowered by those 1868 rules to decide on witnesses.
and when you have a circumstance like this when one of the two central allegations against the president is he is obstructing justice by blocking witnesses, i think it's unlike they this chief justice, who is known for fairness is going to say oh, okay, mr. president, you can go block some more witnesses. >> all right. neal katyal, always a pleasure. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> and for more expert announcements from neal, check out his past segments at msnbc.com/openingarguments. coming up, trump's saudi arabia policy under fire after critics say it makes a mockery of justice. and reporting on giuliani's new unhinged conspiracy theories. also, ari's special look back at the top ten legal stories of 2019. but first, a clip that had lots of people shaking their heads this weekend. the president renewing his attack on an olden my, windmills. >> i never understood -- i know windmills very much. i've studied it more than anybody. it's very expensive. tremendous, if you're into this. tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere.
we have a world, right? so the world is tiny compared to the universe. a windmill will kill many bald eagles. it's true. and you know what? after a certain number, they make you turn the windmill off. that's true, by the way. why is it okay for the windmills to destroy the bird population? and that's what they're doing. ♪
i don't know what rudy's got, but i'm going to send him a letter. if you're going to go on national television and tell the country that you found evidence of a cover-up, then i hope you know what you're talking about. i am going to have an open invitation to rudy giuliani to come to the senate judiciary committee and tell us what you found, and if he come, you got
to be willing to ask questions about your conduct. it's just not good for the country to make these accusations on cable television without them being tested. >> all right. so even trump defender lindsey graham seeming to take a skeptical view towards rudy giuliani, calling on him to back up his wild claims under oath. giuliani traveling to ukraine this month, pushing the very scheme that got his client donald trump impeached in the first place. nbc news reporting that he now claims to have new proof of various debunked conspiracy theories. this alleged proof includes four whistle-blower, two multibillion schemes, and an obama composite cover-up. nbc political reporter josh letterman wrote that story and joins me now from iowa. josh, good to have you with us. i know you've been following this case, but the interesting thing about it is even trump
defenders, as we just played there from lindsey graham, are now wary of giuliani. what does he really claim to have found? >> yes, skepticism even from lindsey graham at the same time lindsey graham and some of his colleagues inviting some of the very witnesses involved in what rudy giuliani says he's uncovered. so he's been really crept tick about what exactly he is floating. we wanted to really dive into what he says he's learned. so the first bucket of allegations has to do with these two multibillion corruption schemes that he says he has uncovered and that he says the obama administration and former ambassador yovanovitch worked to cover up because it essentially would look bad for democrats. one was a $5.3 billion what he says was a corruption scheme involving wasted u.s. taxpayer dollars. so we took a hard look at that. it turns out the u.s. has never given $5.3 billion to ukraine. the top recipient of u.s. aid, israel, has ever only received about $3.8 billion. there was an accounting review in ukraine that found some of the money wasn't spent as effectively as it could have, but no evidence of corruption or money laundering. same with the over $7 billion scheme that giuliani has been talking related to the investment firm franklin
templeton. this is money he says former president yanukovych stole and smuggled into the u.s. we took a look at that and spoke with the company. the money went in the opposite direction. it went from the u.s. to ukraine through bonds that were purchased. so not a lot of water in that one either. and then lastly, he has been talking about these four would-be ukrainian whistle-blowers who he says have wanted to come to the u.s. to testify about some type of corruption that they're aware of, but that yovanovitch blocked them from getting visas in giuliani's argument, so they couldn't come and expose this type of wrongdoing. and obviously visa records are confidential, but we know at least one of those potential witnesses, former prosecutor viktor shokin, yovanovitch
testified he didn't get his visa because he was himself involved in known corrupt activities. not because he was coming to the u.s. to uncover. >> let me ask you quickly with the time we have left about rudy giuliani mental state. "new york" magazine also just profiled rudy and where, quote, former ambassador yovanovitch is controlled by george soros. he put all four ambassadors there, and he is employing the fbi agents. so i go back to my initial point. rudy giuliani starting to sound a little crazy? and i'm not trying to joke about it. but are people around the president and others concerned when he makes these types of assertions on the record that a private american citizen controls the fbi and also
controls our diplomatic corps by appointing the ambassadors? >> it's certainly aiming farther and farther into the land of totally unbased conspiracy theories. we at msnbc took a deep dive into and found giuliani and his associates have been promulgating that really without any evidence. but look, part of the reason that rudy giuliani is doing this, even if it seems unhinged to a general audience is because it plays really well for the president's base. and for those who are looking for reasons to support donald trump, even throughout his impeachment, these give them something to hang their hat on. >> all right, josh letterman out on the campaign trail for us, but also covering multiple stories at the same time. well appreciate it. >> thank you. when we come back, we have a look at ari melber's top ten stories of 2019. and what some call a travesty of justice. some of the biggest stories of 2019 played out in the (danny) pet care ain't easy.
justice. some of the biggest stories of 2019 played out in the courts. here is ari melber's look at the top ten legal stories of the year. number ten, r & b singer r. kelly arrested. >> the bombshell involving r. kelly, the music star who has been trailed by allegations of sexual misconduct for years has now been criminally charged with sexually abusing multiple underaged victims. >> he is expected to head to trial next year. number nine, mexican drug lord el chapo on trial. >> everything was larger than life. >> the most powerful and notorious leader of the sinaloa drug cartel hi, was convicted on drug and murder charges. >> guilty on all ten counts. >> sentenced to life in colorado
supermax prison. number eight, the border crisis. >> breaking news tonight on the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. >> overcrowding. four showers for 756 immigrant. >> sparking outrage across the country. >> none of us would have our children in that position. they are human beings. >> number seven, the fight over the president's tax returns intensifies. trump going to the supreme court, asking them to block a house subpoena for his tax returns. they are expected to rule in june. number six, trump aides convicted and jailed. >> former trump attorney and fixer michael cohen is now behind bars. >> roger stone was convicted on all seven counts brought against him. stone is the sixth trump aide or
adviser to be convicted as part of the mueller investigation. >> number five, president trump gets a new attorney general, bill barr, who emerges to defend the president on the russia and ukraine scandals far more aggressively than his predecessor. number four, financier jeffrey epstein dice in jail. the hedge fund king was arrested and was facing charges for sex trafficking of minors. >> jeffrey epstein is dead. epstein took his own life while he was behind bars. >> his death now under fbi investigation. number three, the college admissions cheating scandal. this sort of personal relationship handshake, you know, pinkie swear that you're doing, president trump, is not really working when it comes to our national security. i don't know if that's going to change the president's behavior but it certainly has riled up a bunch of people. >> you know, we're in a moment, jonathan, where we're talking about the president's legacy in the context of impeachment.
but certainly, when you look at america's standing on the international stage, that, too, will be a big part of his legacy, right? >> well, that's probably how this will figure in. i mean, i hope frank is wrong. i don't think we should be having military blockades. i don't trust trump as commander in chief during combat operations. i don't think trump wants that. he was, you know, somewhat against various military adventures in the last 30 years. and as long as he feels like he's going to win the election, he won't do it. my concern is if the polls show that he's going to lose the election, then he might want to put on that commander-in-chief hat because there's a rally around the flag effect that presidents have experienced in the past. that would be very dangerous for this country. so i -- i hope he just finesses even if it means being the back half of a unicorn.
the white house made sure to strip out spending measures banning arm sales to saudi arabia. trump repeatedly praised the prince, the man the ci says ordered khashoggi's murder. joining me now is a long time foreign affairs journalist now with georgetown university. good to have you with us. let's talk a little bit about this staaudi court sentencing. how is it playing out? >> i'm sure you can have a similar feeling. i mean, we -- all kind of knew that the crown prince wouldn't be implicated. clearly wasn't on trial here even though the united nations, the u.s. intelligence community believes he ordered jamal's killing. you would have thought with the 11 people on trial that some of his closest aides by all accounts mastermind with a mastermind behind the plot and
oversaw it. so the fact that they were two of the people along with the consulate general were the ones that walked free while five others that the henchmen, if you will, were committed to death sentences and three others in jail, i think that ind coo of strains strains kind of strains this. and you think they would have been found guilty. it's playing out exactly as you expected. the united nations amnesty international, "the washington post" where jamal was a journalist, columnist, all calling this really a tragedy of justice. a senior administration official tonight called it an important step in finding those that were believed to be responsible, accountable. >> let me -- you know saudi arabia very well. it's hard to imagine something like this happening without nbs's knowledge, the crown
prince. he was asked that in a "60 minutes "oint view minutes" interview. >> did you order the murder of jamal cou jamal khashoggi? >> translator: absolutely not. >> the cia has concluded with medium to high confidence that you personally targeted khashoggi and you probably ordered his death. >> translator: i hope this information to brought forward. if there is any such information that charges me, i hope it is brought forward publicly. >> the trial was done in secrecy. no one knows what evidence was sprented. is that denial credible do you think? >> i mean, look, the intelligence community and i trust those analysts believe that he was responsible. if you want to be charitable, i suppose you can say that he wanted the, you know, jamal problem. he was criticizing the crown prince taking care of and some of his aides thought this was the way to do it. but look, there is a lot of
evidence that clearly must have not been presented in court that he did have some knowledge of the plan if he didn't order it. >> all right. thank you very much. that does it for me. i hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays. tonight going over the newly released documents, they offer a time line for the president. the call to ukraine, the holdup in the aid money. they've also fueled democrats demands for witnesses at the senate impeachment trial. the republicans seem no closer to thinking that's a good idea. plus, the former national security adviser speaks out on the world leader the president seems to enjoy and the threat of a missile launch just in time for christmas. and these remain unusual times for presidential speeches and speech patterns. tonight we'll talk to an expert on both as "the 11th hour" gets underway on this not so silent monday night. good evening once again are from